When the only way you can get people to buy what you’re selling is to pay them to buy it, it’s time to reconsider making what you’re selling.
Unless, of course, you can force someone else to pay for it.
In the oddball past, businesses had to succeed or fail based on their being able to sell things people wanted to buy at a price they were willing to pay. But the electric car business is a political business and grubby old things like that are no longer considered.
The above is the context for commentary about Nissan’s half-off (almost) offer on a new Nissan Leaf electric car. The manufacturer of the least-expensive EV you can buy – base price $31,600 for the 150-mile range model; $38,200 for the “Plus” model that can go a little bit farther – wants to give buyers $6,000 cash back off that plus the egg-on of the $7,500 federal kickback for “$13,500 in potential savings!” as the offer exclamation-points it.
This being “part of the effort to accelerate electric vehicle transportation alternatives throughout the U.S.”
Actually, it opens a window on what you’ll be paying for “the effort to accelerate electric vehicle transportation throughout the U.S.”
Because this cannot go on without someone paying for it all. Guess who that’ll be?
Nissan – and it’s not just Nissan – can’t continue manufacturing EVs it can’t sell without lopping half (almost) off the MSRP. Without getting someone else to eat that loss. It is balance sheet math. It is why GM no longer manufactures the Pontiac Aztek.
Try, as a thought experiment, to conceive of GM continuing to manufacture the Aztek – and maintain Pontiac – via financially grotesque half-off (or almost) “incentives” to buy them. There would be a shareholder revolt. The automotive press would be merciless in its coverage. And most of all, it would not last because you can only hemorrhage so much blood before you die.
Unless, of course, you have access to a steady supply of fresh blood – provided via IV transfusion from unwilling donors.
It’s all of us – who will be bled to keep the EV alive. At least until the privately owned car is dead, for the majority of us. This being the political reason for “the effort to accelerate electric vehicle transportation throughout the U.S.”
It’s not stated that way, of course. But it’s academic. People in the main aren’t able to afford electric cars, leaving aside the question of their very dubious merits as cars. Nissan – and the rest – cannot afford to continue giving them away (even Tesla is discounting its cars – twice in the past month alone).
The government can – and will, if the Green New Deal becomes policy, as the Hair Plugged Man has promised it will – insist that people drive electric cars. It will regulate non-electric cars off the market or make them just as unaffordable as electric cars – perhaps even less affordable, as the Chinese have done via exorbitantly priced registration/license fees for non-electric cars.
It can – and will – require that all new homes be outfitted with high-voltage wiring to facilitate at-home “fast” charging.
But someone’s got to pay for all of this and the problem is that most of us can’t.
And that’s why the Leaf doesn’t sell. It’s not because it’s a bad car. It’s a preposterously pricey car. Even with almost half lopped off the MSRP, the thing still isn’t an economically sensible alternative to a non-electric equivalent.
A non-electric Versa – a car about the same size and shape as a Leaf – can be bought for $14,830 and Nissan doesn’t have to cut the price in almost-half to get people to buy them. Probably because the Versa – at full sticker price, no haggling and no “incentives” – costs the buyer $3,270 less than the almost-half-off Leaf.
And it goes twice as far – almost three times as far on the highway – and does not require spending another $1,000-plus to get your house rewired, either.
The Leaf, even almost-half-off, still costs too much relative to what it costs buyers to own it. Including the cost of time, which can’t be rebated.
Teslas sell a little better because they are marketed as rich people’s toys. But there are only so many rich people who can afford such toys. That supply is drying up. Which is why Tesla has been discounting its cars so much all of a sudden. (The loss of the federal tax kickback has contributed to this by making Teslas cost closer to what they actually cost.)
This idea that EVs can be mass-market cars is either delusional or deliberate – the means by which almost everyone except the rich will be gotten out of cars without actually outlawing them.
Cars weren’t illegal in the old Soviet Union, either. You just didn’t see many of them being driven by the proletariat.
. . .
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